Getting Closer


Thought for the Day

As we filed into the crematory, everyone (elderly women included) fell to their knees on the ground, wailing. The howls of the mourners mixed in with the roar of the cremation machine. The effect was eerie. I stood in the back, my eyes wide, feeling like an anthropologist privy to some unknown rite.

It is a Chinese practice to hire professional mourners for a ceremony to help facilitate grief, to whip the crowd into a frenzy. It was difficult to tell if some of the people on the crematory floor were such professional mourners, hired by the family to promote sorrow through their excess emotion. Were professional mourners even available in Oakland? Their grief appeared genuine. But then again, I had never been in a situation like this before, where such a large group of people allowed themselves to be emotionally vulnerable. No still upper lips here.

Suddenly, a man I had somehow missed began weaving his way through the crowd with a video camera, filming the mourners. He would stop in front of a wailer and wave his hands upward, indicating what he wanted from them was more, more wailing! The mourner would let out a louder, more anguished cry and beat the ground. It seemed that no one wanted to get caught on camera looking calm or stoic.

The Huang family was engaged in ritual in the classic sense, mixing belief with tactile, physical action. Andrew Newberg and Eugene D’Aquili, two researchers of the human brain from the University of Pennsylvania, explained that for a ritual to work, the participants must engage “all parts of the brain and body, it must merge behaviour with ideas.” Through their wailing, their kneeling, their grief, Mr. Huang’s family were connecting to something greater than themselves.


Mr. Huang forced me to think about what I would do if my own father died. Frankly, I hadn’t a clue. There was a good chance that not everyone taking part in this witness cremation felt quite the intensity of grief they were displaying. For some it may have been more performance than genuine sorrow. But that didn’t matter; the Huang family had ritual. They knew what to do and I envied them for it. The knew how to cry, mourn harder, and show up with bowls of fruit. At the time of death, they were a community, rallied around ideas and customs.

— Caitlin Doughty, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory

Thought for the Day


Meaghan Carter has some interesting thoughts about ProCreate for the iPad.

Interesting Gaming World Generation Algorithms

This is an interesting description of an algorithm for generating world maps. The author’s original implementation is in ActionScript to ensure that no one will ever reuse the code. But there’s also a JavaScript subset.

The website has some interesting concepts. I’m particularly interested in their algorithm for noisy edges.

10 Things I Wish Were Better in Clip Studio

I like Clip Studio Paint, and it’s my go-to tool for comics work. But that’s not to say that I’m not occasionally underwhelmed by some of its features. I have the Ex version. Here’s a list of 10 things I wish were better about Clip Studio Paint.

1. Weird brush settings

There are some default brush settings that I find really annoying, and it’s especially annoying that they’re default options.

The one that I find most irritating is the setting that makes brush sizes relative to zoom. So if I pick my favourite inking brush and expand it out to 30px — which means that at maximum pressure, the brush is 30px across (unless you’ve turned off pressure sensitivity) — the size is based on screen size, not paper size. So if I zoom in, 30px on the screen represents a larger area of the paper, and the weight of the line appears a lot heavier. If you want consistent line weights, zooming in screws you up. Suddenly everything you’ve inked at the zoomed-in scale is heavier than the lines you ink while zoomed out. I’m sure that there’s a scenario where you might want that, but I suspect that they’re rare. Nonetheless, this option is turned on by default.

I’ve personally found the pen pressure settings to be far too sensitive, and I tend to tweak the pen pressure sensitivity settings on my favourite brushes to reduce the amount that they respond to pen pressure. One of the YouTube artists that I follow, Sara Tepes, uses Krita and her main brushes have pen pressure sensitivity turned off. I don’t think I’m the only one who struggles with pen sensitivity; I suspect that a lot of the “what brushes do you use?” questions are really “when I try this, the brush size goes out of control” complaints.
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Master Tung-kuo asked Chuang Tzu, “This thing called the Tao — where does it exist?”

Chuang Tzu said, “There’s no place it doesn’t exist.”

“Come,” said Master Tung-kuo, “you must be more specific!”

“It is in the ant.”

“As low a thing as that?”

“It is in the panic grass.”

“But that’s lower still!”

“It is in the tiles and shards.”

“How can it be so low?”

“It is in the piss and shit. And also mayonnaise.”

The Chuang Tzu

Four Things That Are True in My Book

1. I bailed on Game of Thrones. I stopped watching it around season 5. I haven’t seen any of the seasons since.

2. This is a good mantra: “Let people enjoy things.”

3. I think elements of the show are problematic (at least one of those problematic elements is the thing that drove me away).

4. You can be a fan of problematic things.

“I Will Put my Deeds Before my Faith for the Time Being”

On a pretty regular basis, I find myself thinking about this scene from The Trotsky, in which two of Leon’s colleagues are trying to convince the school’s students to back Leon’s (radical) course of action:

I particularly like the acknowledgement that Tony isn’t sure that he’s sold on the path forward, but is prepared to back it anyway.

Doing Lines

This video is surprisingly practical for improving digital linework:

It reminds me a bit about how Ty taught inking: the first class was all about how to move your hand.